Kids are the future. I know that, you know that, and billionaire tech mogul Mark Zuckerberg knows that, too. Of course, when the general public considers the impact of future generations, they do so with a consideration of culture and societal growth – not a publicly listed company’s bottom line.
For Zuckerberg, the future was front of mind on Thursday when – amidst an awesome wave of negative press following the co-ordinated leak of thousands of pages of internal documents – the Facebook CEO announced that the company is changing its corporate name to “Meta”.
“The future will be built by those willing to stand up and say this is the future we want,” the billionaire announced during a Facebook Connect presentation.
And so, in an effort to interrogate what young people actually think about Facebook, “Meta”, the “metaverse”, and Mark Zuckerberg, we asked a bunch of teenagers for their thoughts on the blue app that so many of us have come to find synonymous with our daily lives.
What do you think of Facebook?
Billy, 18-years-old: “My mates and I mostly just use Snapchat, which is kind of cringe. I feel like Messenger is something I use when I’m talking to older people. I use it to catch up on stuff but, honestly, I could not give a fuck. I never do status updates or any of that shit. I use it a little bit because when I refresh [the NewsFeed] there’s always stuff.”
“My Instagram is public which is probably my first mistake. I realised when I got a job that that wasn’t good. Personally, I don’t really care. For now, it’s all good. Getting hacked would be annoying, but I haven’t changed my password since I was 10-years-old.”
“The Facebook advertising stuff… learning about it at uni, that shit kinda scares me. Like, how much do they know? But then I just move on with my life and don’t really think about it”.
Grace, 13-years-old: “Usually we use Snapchat. That’s what we use the most. I use it for messaging and taking photos. Stupid stuff.”
“I’ve got one friend who uses Facebook. Just one”.
“I think it’s for old people and millennials because that was the original social media and they got addicted to it”.
“I think they started the addiction culture with social media. Gen Z gets blamed for it a lot when it wasn’t actually us - We were introduced to it by older people.”
Emilia, 18-years-old: “I’ve had one since I was 13-years-old.”
“Instagram is definitely my biggest app. The second is probably Facebook.”
Bridie, 16-years-old: “I use Facebook occasionally. Mostly for my exam discussion Facebook Group. I don’t post at all.”
Luke, 19-years-old: “I do use Facebook, however I don’t use it to post anything. I pretty much just get all my news off of it. I just follow different pages and never post on it. I use Instagram and Snapchat more frequently.”
What do you think of “the metaverse” and Facebook’s new company name, “Meta”?
Billy, 18-years-old: “I’ve seen people saying that Facebook is trying to distract from the privacy stuff - which makes sense. And that they’re hoping there’s 1 billion people in the metaverse in 10 years. But I thought Facebook already had 1 billion people?”
“When I heard “metaverse” I thought it was the Spiderman movie to be honest. But I have no clue. It might have been cool in lockdown.”
“I’m technological but I don’t like online shopping and I don’t give a shit about the virtual world.”
“I can see why people over 30-years-old would be worried, because they can’t wish their grandma happy birthday the same way or something”.
Emilia, 19-years-old: “I haven’t delved into it, but I thought the concept was interesting. I’m not sure how viable it would be. I’m skeptical. I always feel like, when they try to meld real life and virtual reality, it sounds good and chill in theory but when it comes down to it I don’t think it will supplement being face-to-face”.
“Meta sounds like a 30-year-old trying to be relatable to a younger generation. I feel like they’re making it cyberpunk but it’s not. It’s trying too hard.”
“I think [Mark Zuckerberg] as the head of Meta is a scary concept. It doesn’t feel like a safe pair of hands.”
Grace O, 18-years-old: “I haven’t heard of the metaverse. We probably wouldn’t do it. Most of the people I know don’t really use Facebook except for using it with their parents. That’s the main reason everyone I know has Facebook - for their parents, or work”.
“The whole reason I got a Facebook account is because my mum begged me to get it so she could tag me in photos. But I dont go on it unless my mum is like ‘I tagged you in a photo’.”
“Someone did mention Facebook was changing its name. I don’t know why they’d change their name. I’d find it strange if they changed the name because it’s so ingrained in our brains”.
Bridie, 16-years-old: “The impression I get is that it’s a virtual reality world, which seems so ridiculous. Like, really, what are they thinking? The problems that they need to address are now, not in the future.
“Apart from misinformation, there’s also the huge diet culture and eating disorder thing, especially on Instagram.”
“I don't think my friends or I would do it. It sounds like it would be ridiculously expensive”.
“Meta feels very superficial. They’re like: “We’re not Facebook anymore. We don’t have those problems. We’re Meta, we're different’.”
“It’s such a bad name as well, out of everything. It’s so vague.
“This whole selling of data thing, and Cambridge Analytica, it made me very very skeptical of giving them information. But also, it’s unavoidable.”
Luke, 19-years-old: “Meta just seems odd to be honest. I don’t understand the point of the metaverse. It’s not appealing to me.”
And finally, what do you think of Mark Zuckerberg?
Billy, 18-years-old: “I don’t care, honestly. I always see shit about him – I see him getting interrogated by politicians and stuff. But I don’t really care.”
“I looked into the privacy stuff… there’s a lot of stuff that if I looked into would probably freak me out. But it’s kind of like: what’s the worst that could happen?”
“My understanding of him is probably from that movie, ‘The Social Network.’”
Grace, 13-years-old: “I know who Mark Zuckerberg is and I’ve heard different things about him: some negative, some positive. I heard that he created Facebook, so he basically created social media. But I also heard that he’s a billionaire and not many people like him because of that.”
Luke, 19-years-old: “I mostly know about him from memes. He seems pretty reserved… there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Bridie, 16-years-old: “I don’t think about him much. He just gives me very strange vibes. He seems very non-committal to everything. Everything he says seems to be very vague. All the stuff he said in the video this morning, I was just like: `I don't think you’re actually committing to fixing the problems”.
“Like, surely you were normal once”.
Follow Brad Esposito on Twitter.